FBI agents paid for partying in Iraq
Sat, 20 Dec 2008 03:01:34 GMT
FBI agents in Iraq have received millions of tax payer dollars in overtime pay while attending movies and cocktail parties.
The FBI encouraged agents to list all waking hours on their time sheets, a move that violated federal pay statutes, regulations and FBI policies, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine said.
In some cases, agents were paid to watch movies, exercise and attend parties.
The 1,150 agents who volunteered for war zone assignment in Iraq from 2003 to 2007 uniformly listed 16-hour workdays for each day of their three-month tours, Fine said, plus improper additional 'Sunday pay'.
The inspector general could not determine exactly how much money the overtime hours cost the federal government, but the report lists USD 6.4m as a conservative estimate, the Washington Times said.
The report blamed a faulty FBI policy that allowed agents to claim the extra time and money. An FBI spokesman said that policy, which initially sought to recruit volunteers to go to dangerous war zones, is no longer in place.
Several FBI employees claimed that time spent at a weekly, colleague-hosted "cocktail party was 'work' because it was a 'liaison' effort" to employees who attended from other government agencies, the report noted.
Others washed clothes during working hours. One employee defending the practice, saying, "When you're in that environment, anything you do to survive is work for the FBI."
FBI Assistant Director John Miller acknowledged that FBI headquarters management "allowed a flawed system to develop and remain in place too long."
In a statement, Miller said FBI managers early on tried to adapt normal pay practices to 'unprecedented wartime assignments' for FBI personnel who were living with sniper attacks, mortar fire and roadside bombs, and employees followed a pay and overtime policy 'they were told to use.'
However, Miller added, "A system that both fairly recognized employees and complied with pay statutes and other personnel regulations should have been put in place but wasn't."
T.J. Harrington, then deputy assistant director of the counterterrorism division, said the pay was justified because agents were constantly on call, had no freedom to use off-time and exercised to maintain fitness and relieve stress, the report stated. Generous pay was needed to attract volunteers for dangerous and uncomfortable duty, he said.